Many nature photographers prefer to shoot on cloudy days, when the dynamic range is not too wide for the camera to capture, and sharp shadows don’t create issues. In other words, the experienced photographer can be assured of capturing detail in both the highlights and the shadows. But sunlight very early and very late in the day creates other nice opportunities. For example, in this photograph in Six Mile Cypress Swamp in Fort Myers, Forida, the shadows made good leading lines, as did the sunlight coming in from the upper right corner. All those lines converge in the low center of the frame. The blue sky made a vivid reflection in the still water, and the yellow sunlight in the background adds some warmth.
This time of year when we experience fewer bright sunny days, we appreciate what sunshine can do for our mood. I certainly feel more energetic and upbeat on a sunny day. How about you?
Yesterday in a Florida swamp, I recognized an opportunity to try a new style (new to me): Intentional Camera Movement (ICM). It was late afternoon, and the sun was behind me as I gazed across a pond at a placid scene of trees and brush reflected in the still pond. Admiring the sunlight on the vertical lines of the trees, elongated into their reflections, I suddenly realized that I could make an interesting graphic by moving the camera vertically while exposing as long as possible.
Since I had been working on shooting a bird and some otters across the pond, I had the equivalent* of a 300mm f/ 2.8 lens mounted on my D800. This was a good choice to switch to ICM, because, as you may know, it is pretty easy to blur a shot made with this lens if you are shooting handheld! I set my camera aperture as small as possible (f/32) in order to generate a slow the shutter speed (1/6th second) in Aperture Priority mode. This would set the shutter to be open long enough to create a vertical blur as I moved the camera. I recalled that I should begin the camera movement before pressing the shutter and keep an even movement speed. I experimented with about 6 images, and of course each one was a little different.
This one was my favorite for a few reasons: 1) Camera movement was truly vertical so the vertical lines of the trees are emphasized. 2) I like the color palette of blue, green, white, yellow and brown. 3) I like the tonal contrast and the mirror effect created by the shoreline. 4) My overall impression is that I would not tire of looking at this image. I think it would look cool in a home or office — especially as a metal print. Do you?
*Nikon 70-200mm lens with Nikon 1.5 teleconverter.